I don’t eat meat. Should I let my children eat it?
Sometimes, the things you once said come back to bite you.
It might have been utttered because you believed the “promise” you made on a particular subject would never materialise. Or it might have been said rashly to gloss over the problem, so it could be filed under “things to tackle in the distant future” category of your brain.
I find myself in a situation where something I said nine years ago – and repeated seven years ago – has come back to haunt me. It’s my fault and it has put me right in the middle of an ethical dilemma.
The problem is this: I don’t eat meat. My partner does, but we eat vegetarian meals at home. He is happy with this arrangement – but takes the opportunity when he can to eat meat. I am fine with that, too.
When we had children, he agreed that we could bring them up on a meat-free diet.
It has slipped slightly as I – and the family – now eat fish (strictly speaking this makes me a pescetarian, but it sounds like a cop out and slightly ludicrous).
So, what was the promise I made? It was this:
If, when the children are old enough to understand how/why animals are killed for meat and they are happy with that they can eat it.
The trouble is, I imagined them to be happy non-meat eaters, skipping in a rose-tinted world of Quorn and vegetarian meals.
Over the past few months, though, they have decided they want to eat meat. They’ve seen programmes about animal husbandry and how the creatures are slaughtered for the plate; they have simultaneously said “how cruel” and “I want to eat meat” when discussions have taken place about farming practices; they claim they understand what it is all about.
Now I want to backtrack; I want to go back on what I have said before. I did muse about compromising and allowing them to eat only organic meat, but even that upsets me.
There are a myriad problems with my attitude – and I understand that I might be appearing selfish, childish and too controlling. I appreciate that I am setting a bad example by doing a u-turn on this issue.
If I keep resisting their urge to eat meat (although they did eat some at Christmas), they’ll probably run to McDonalds (another bugbear of mine) and trough down a Big Mac as soon as they are old enough to go on their own.
If I allow them the occasional meaty meal, then the “forbidden fruit” aspect of it could dissipate and they might – just might – decide that they don’t want to eat it anyway.
I’m not one for banging on about animal cruelty. It was my choice not to eat meat. The reasons were personal and I don’t tut or berate anyone for choosing to eat pork, beef, chicken etc.
The fact that I eat fish probably negates all my arguments about a meat-free diet.
No one is asking me to forego my beliefs and eat animal flesh; the whole family knows that 99 per cent of the time the meals on the table will not contain meat.
But, why can’t I let this one go? I’m wracking my brains and know I’ll probably have to make a decision soon – before it is taken out of my hands.